I sneezed four times in a row, and I thought that was it.  Then five through ten came.  I think it’s a vicious cycle, working with sawdust.  You inhale deeply to sneeze, inevitably sucking up more sawdust that will make you sneeze again.  And again.

I remember working on small projects like birdhouses with my dad when I was small, and being coached on sanding, and painting carefully instead of every which way.  It was like that again on Saturday, his voice in my head guiding the even passes with the sanding block and the smooth strokes that stained the wood the color of walnuts.  Every now and again, my ten year old self would sneak in and all would go awry.  Pedro would look over and shake his head and remind me “fine, fine” and I would slow down again.

My days have been exhausted writing papers for my doctorate and managing teachers and students and learning.  Like the sneezing described above, it also feels cyclical.  Wake up, study.  Shower, go to work- don’t get behind.  Work at work, and work at home.  Find yourself behind, so you wake up early- to study.  It was nice to break out of the trap on Saturday.  To find myself covered in dust and stain, rather than papers and books.  Having a whiskey break with Carlos after lunch because it’s Saturday and why not and our work can only improve with help.  Smiling at the passersby who look on with curiosity at the funny gringo girl, covered from head to toe in wood shavings.  They like the work, and mutter their praise as they pass, turning to whisper to one another before they are out of earshot at the strange sight they have just seen.

Women as carpenters does not exist here.  And so, a stereotype is broken, but that wasn’t really the point.  It was purely selfish.  I wanted to indulge in something that required less thought, though I found room for contemplation.  And room for making jokes, and staining wood the wrong color, and sneezing all morning and a shot of whiskey in the afternoon.

Sky Lohse